10th Anniversary Trip to Maui

When we were little baby 26-year olds, Derek and I ventured to the island paradise of Maui for our honeymoon. This was back in 2005 before the days of smart phones and Pinterest and pumpkin spice lattes. The dark ages.

We always said we’d go back for our 10th anniversary and whaddyouyaknow? We pulled it off.

Things were obviously much more complicated this time around. We didn’t even own a house the last time we went there. Or a dog. Or really anything.

This time it took a symphony of many people, rearranged schedules and a 4-page Word document so my parents could run the orchestra – and get the kids to school clean, fed and happy – all on time. We owe them big. I think they’re STILL tired.


The view from our hotel room. The poor, 26-year old versions of us from 10 years ago could only afford a partial ocean view so we decided an upgrade was in order this time around. Hours were spent on this balcony just looking at the ocean whilst drinking some local beer.


Ten years ago we discovered a hidden black sand beach along the infamous Hana Highway. We had a general idea of where it was, but we considered ourselves incredibly lucky to find it once again. We were the only two people on this amazing beach while the Pacific Ocean roared cold and angry at our feet. It was amazing. We just kept looking at each other in disbelief. And then it started POURING. There’s a metaphor for marriage in there somewhere.


I believe during our last trip to Maui we rented a Geo Metro. I’m not even kidding. The rental car place talked us into upgrading to a Pontiac and we wisely agreed. This time, we again decided to go big or go home. And we did not want to go home. So we rented a convertible! A bitchin, Camaro convertible. We felt really cool. See above.


Before we knew it, the week was up and it was time to head home. Words cannot express how much I missed these two. I felt it in every ounce of my body. I ached to squeeze their cheeks, to see their smiles and to comb their hair and make their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

But the time away with my husband of 10 years was invaluable. We forgot what it was like to have uninterrupted conversations, to leisurely lay in bed in no rush to get up and get the day started, to stop off for a beer whenever the mood strikes us. It was glorious. My goal for the next 10 years is to remember that feeling of joy, love and happiness and incorporate it regularly into our everyday, hectic, crazy life.


Happy anniversary, babe. Thanks for making all my dreams come true. I love you.


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First Day of Preschool

Last week was Charlotte’s first day of school. We enrolled her in a K3 program at a private school where she’ll spend two mornings per week. It’s the same school Riley attended for K3 and little sis COULD NOT wait for her big day. We bought the backpack and lunch box and ….well, that’s about it. And in all honesty, the backpack and lunch box were birthday presents from grandma, so we really did nothing in preparation for her 10 weekly hours of school. Ha! Poor, poor second child.

What we did do? We talked it up! Since she’s never been in daycare and never spent much regular time away from her family, I wondered if this would be my child who clings to my leg at drop off, wetting my business casual pants with tears while I pried off her deathgrip and headed to work. In spring we ran a local 5K that offered free child care during the race and in the 27 minutes I was running, she was crying. I came back all sweaty to a little girl who thought she’d never see me again. Oy.

Talking up this monumental event worked. As did her seeing her big bro head to school the week before she did. She was so lost without having him as her partner in crime like she did all summer, so when she’d get sad, we’d just remind her that her turn was coming JUST NEXT WEEK!

Finally, the day arrived for her to start “3-year old school.”


She was clearly distraught.


Poor, poor thing.


Big bro had to jump in to comfort his sad, little sister.

Ok seriously, the only way I could describe her is proud. She wore that ginormous Elsa backpack with PURPOSE. She strutted through the parking lot like it was no thang. We posed for another picture outside the school, too.


You can just see the excitement and pride on her face. Into the classroom we went, the teachers were great at seeming genuinely excited to see her. She beamed. I said goodbye to her and hugged and kissed her twice. Waiting for a reaction. She hugged back and said “bye Mommy!” I waited for it to register with her that I was really leaving and would pick her up after lunch. Nope. She was too excited about the puzzle she was working on. I snuck out and that was it.

When I picked her up on my lunch hour, she looked older. I couldn’t believe it. She talked and talked about how much fun she had. She said she wanted to go back tomorrow. She was thrilled. She’s an official big girl.

And now I’m the one who’s proud.

I think one of the coolest things about having kids is the opportunity to re-live childhood. That’s been one of the most surprising and happiest things since becoming a parent. Seeing what your children do when you’re not around is amazing. Watching them become their own people is inspiring. I love this crazy, crazy life.

And because I’ll look back on this post in a few years, here is Riley’s first day of K3, three short years ago, when he attended the same school.

First day of preschool, 2012

First day of preschool, 2012

Ahhhhhh! My baby! I miss his little baby face. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the corner weeping.

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On Weight Loss

Ah, yes, the subject of weight loss. What woman hasn’t spent a good portion of her life dealing with this? Not many. After having two kids, I realized something. My weight was up. I know, how could I not notice? I’ve always been a very active person. Being a competitive figure skater, a distance runner and a frequent visitor to my local gym, you’d think I would have nothing to worry about. Um, wrong.

I’ve often joked that I’m not the type of person who can just work out and eat whatever they want. It’s so unfair. I once ran 8 miles and stepped on the scale the next day to see that I’d actually gained weight. ARG!

I was always afraid of never losing the last of the baby weight. I knew my weight was up higher than I would’ve liked, but I figured it was only 5 pounds or so. Um, wrong again.

Then I was looking at pictures of our amazing family trip to Disneyworld in February and I was like, “oof.” There was no denying it.

Meetingdonald Meetingmickey

Oof. Upon further investigation when we returned home, I realized I was up a good 10-15 pounds from before getting pregnant with Riley in 2009. Not. Cool.

The stars seemed to align when I saw a Groupon for Weight Watchers Online for $20 for two months. Twenty bucks? I could give it a go for twenty bucks. I checked with my sister and she agreed to do it with me. The results.

It works.

huronlake parade

I’ve lost 14 pounds since April and I can’t believe how easy it was. Not easy easy. But easier than I thought it would be. So easy that I wish I had done it three years ago right after Charlotte was born. My sister has lost 40 pounds and is still losing! Her goal is to hit 100 pounds. Talk about life changing.

For me, the key was realizing what a portion size is. Hint – it’s much smaller than you think. So tracking what I ate with the app on my phone all day, every day just became a habit. Yes, it was kind of a pain, but I learned so much from doing it, that it was worth it. And seeing 1-2 pounds fall off every week was sooooo motivating.

Right now, I’m just working on maintaining what I’ve lost and staying at this normal weight forever. No, I’m not “skinny” but that’s fine by me. That’s never been my goal and never will be my goal. But if I can drop a pant size and do a double take when I catch my reflection in a store window, that’s really all I need.

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Charlotte’s Frozen Birthday Party


When our Frozen-obsessed daughter asked for a Frozen party for her third birthday, I was a smidge disappointed. I love going DIY for the kids’ birthday parties and I felt like if we did a canned birthday like Frozen, it would be a little well, boring for me. But in this Pinterest age, I should’ve known that I’d be able to find cute crafty-type things to make it seem a little more homemade.

And I will say that it is pretty sweet to head to Target three days before the party and buy all the plates, tablecloths and even paper crowns in one simple trip. Now I see why people do these type of parties.

We held the party for family in our backyard. My husband had just finished building a ginormous 400 square foot deck, so the party doubled as a deck-breaking-in party as well.


The birthday girl had one request – an Elsa dress WITH A CAPE. Thankfully I found this one with a sheer cape velcroed to the back. Since the party, she has been trying to get that cape to stick to just about every shirt she has. Life is better with a cape, obvi.

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We got Pinterest-y with the food. See above for the “Do you Want to Build a Snowman?” station, white chocolate covered strawberries for Frozen Hearts, blue candy melt marshmallows as Elsa’s Icicles and Blue Hawaiian punch with pineapple juice and white soda which became Anna’s Frozen Punch. The rest of the menu included cold cuts for a sandwich bar, fruit and a bunch of salads.

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The punch was a hit.


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But I would say the biggest hit of all were these water balloons. I had seen the “Watch Out for my Butt” sign on Pinterest, and my graphic designer husband Photoshopped it to look like big bro Riley had turned into Olaf. Also, apparently it’s nearly impossible to find actual white waterballoons. So I just bought regular white balloons and figured we’d be fine. Well, you can probably see where this is going. They were virtually impossible to break. Slamming them on the concrete patio, squeezing them with all our might, nothing worked. HIlarity ensued. The finale was my 89-year old grandpa finally getting one to break, right over my head, while I cowered in fear. From my 89-year old grandpa with a water balloon. Good times.

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I was kind of disappointed with how my two-tired Blue Velvet cake turned out. I wrapped it in Frozen ribbon and put Anna and Elsa on top, along with blue sanding sugar, but I just thought it looked a little meh. But when Charlotte saw her cake, she gasped and squealed and asked if it was for her. The birthday girl loved it? Sold. Perfect. Donesies.

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Dear Charlotte,

It has officially been three years since you were born and I heard your daddy exclaim, “Is it a GIRL? It’s a GIRL!!” as you entered the world. To say we were shocked and thrilled would be an understatement. In three short years you have brought more joy, love and happiness to our lives than we thought possible. IMG_4748


We used to joke that we hit the jackpot when we had Riley, but with you, we know we are equally lucky and we are equally grateful. You haven proven to be an opinionated, independent little girl. Which means there have been some tantrums this year. They’re almost comical – you stomping your foot with an emphatic “NO!” And then you calmly looking at us to see what our reaction will be.

The one thing I will remind you of over and over when you’re older is what a crappy sleeper you have always been. Seriously. Ever since you outgrew infanthood, you decided that sleep is not something you’re interested in. I still get up with you almost every night. Last night was THREE TIMES! Seriously. You don’t need anything. Other than a hug from your beloved mommy. But you magically nap like a dream for your daddy every day while I’m at work. Figures.

Xmas came and went and now we can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!

Few things in life have made me as happy as seeing the relationship between you and your brother. As we imagined, he’s been your protector, your BFF, your irritator and well, your favorite person. No matter what he’s eating or what treat he gets, he automatically asks for a second one for you. He’s got your back. Since birth he has called you “Goo Gee.” Like most good nicknames, none of us remember where that name came from, but it has stuck and we all call you Goo Gee. Another thing to tease you about when you’re older of course. But in reality, we’ll probably still call you Goo Gee on your wedding day.


You idolize your big brother, that’s for sure. If he’s riding his bike, you want to ride your bike. If he’s playing Thomas trains, you want to play, too. It is rare not to hear you exclaim, “Rah-leeee!” in either happiness, attention-seeking or in anger. A perfect brother-sister duo.

I couldn’t have hand-picked a better daughter. You’re hilarious, independent, opinionated, equal parts girly and tom-boy. You’re perfect. Even when you’re stomping your foot and waking me up at 3 a.m.

Driving the boat.

I love you so, my sweet little girl.

Happy birthday.

Love, Mommy

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Tap, tap, tap

Last fall I started taking a tap dancing class. Yes, I am the queen of weird hobbies and it just made sense to start tapping. One of my friends and I had talked about taking a tap class for years and we finally found an adult, beginners class, so we signed up.

For the last six months I’ve been tapping every Thursday night all leading up to last week’s recital. I was reluctant to do it, especially because my friend couldn’t participate in the recital. Her husband was just living his dream running the Boston Marathon, so she thought her tapping should take second billing. Whatevs.

Anyway, I had to embark on the recital without my sidekick and with some older ladies. I was the youngest in the class by probably 10 years, but everyone was so nice and welcoming. They had all taken the class last year, so they knew what they were doing more than I was.

Recital day came, I put on my red sequinned halter top, and I was not really even nervous. Probably because it was too ridiculous for a 36 year old mother of two and to be nervous about a tap dancing recital. What?

I’m happy to report everything went great and even though I was blinded by the stage lights, I could see two tiny hands waving to me from the middle of the theater. I waved back, which you’re totally not supposed to do, but whatever. I wanted them to know that I saw them, that I knew they were proud of me and that even when you’re a grown up, you can still do the fun things you want to do.

According to Derek, Riley was squealing and squirming in the seat before my class took the stage. He said he was so excited to see me dance. That’s what I want them to tell stories about when they’re older. I want them to forget the times I raise my voice, or give them PB&Js for dinner and the dog hair tumbleweed that just may be rolling across our living room right now.

I want them to remember that their old mom did fun things because she wanted to do them. That it may even be kind of ….cool? Inspiring? Goofy? All of the above?

Either way, I had lots of hugs and “you were awesomes” afterwards and it felt great.

P.S. This little boy yelled to a girl in a different class that performed before mine, “You’re beautiful and I want to marry you!” We’re going to be in trouble with that one…

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Riley’s Robot Party

For his 6th birthday (how is he THAT old??), Riley requested a robot party. And I was secretly pleased because I had been looking at cute robot party ideas on Pinterest and was happy I’d get to try some of them out. We decided to do a Friday night friend party at an indoor play place and then have a smaller family party on Saturday. Since I had to work all day Friday, I kept it simple with a few store-bought decorations (the horror!) and some cupcakes. Made from a box mix (NOOOOO!). That week was so crazy for me, I actually had to bake his birthday cupcakes over my lunch hour. This working mom thing is no joke.

But by Friday night, seeing the look on this little boy’s face made everything worth it.




It’s not a kid party if all the kids aren’t swarming around the gift opening.

He was so tired, he actually fell asleep in the car on the 10 minute drive home.

The family party arrived and I still had a lot to do. Like make the crown jewel of the party – the robot cake. I had found it on Pinterest, of course, and it actually didn’t take long at all. Like I probably frosted and decorated it within 30 minutes. Maybe less.

Riley played in his room while I worked in the kitchen and then I called him out to come take a look. I think he liked it.



Oh, that face….


The feet are leftover cupcakes from the party the night before. I found metallic sprinkles at Michaels and they came in gold, silver and black and I can’t wait to find more fun uses for them. The little colored robots are crayons that I ordered on Etsy and were the gift for Riley’s friends to take home from him party. Using mini-chocolate donuts, M&Ms, Oreos and a red sucker as a blinking light on top, this was one of the cutest and easiest cakes I’ve ever made.

IMG_9238One set of grandparents couldn’t make it to the party until later and after waiting what felt like forever, the birthday boy was a little restless. A quick Google search for robot party games led me to this. Using his grabber, we pretended it was a robot arm and had party-goers see who could pick up the robot crayons the fastest. Surprisingly entertaining, especially when we made everyone use their left hands.



His favorite gift from this party was a Disney Parks K’nex set of his beloved Dumbo ride. My mom found this on Amazon and I didn’t even know it existed. It has a working motor and little tourists that can go in the ride. This little boy was very happy.

All in all, a great 6th birthday party for my big man!



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